As we reported yesterday, Toyota announced today the availability of a new premium compact hatchback called the Blade. Based on the Auris, the Blade gets a sharper edge of style with a sculpted front end that's more aggressive than the bloated face of the Auris. Unlike what we told you yesterday, Toyota did not announce a powerful 280-hp V6 as an engine option for the Blade, at least it hasn't yet. At launch, the Blade will be powered by Toyota's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which Wikipedia lists as producing 157 hp and 162 ft-lbs of torque. Toyota didn't release official power figures for the engine's use in the Blade, so those numbers may turn out to be different. The engine will be paired with what Toyota calls its Super CVT-i, a continuously variable transmission with seven programmed "speeds" if people still yearn the kick-down of a cog, and will be available in front- and all-wheel drive. As a premium hatchback, the Blade also gets many electronic nannies including Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, side and curtain shield airbags, as well as a driver's seat knee bag.

Read more of our thoughts and check out the official press release from Toyota after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]


We have learned the Blade will only be available in Japan, which is interesting because it appears to be a vehicle inspired by European hatchbacks that are as full of high-end equipment as a Cadillac in the U.S. Many have also theorized that the U.S. is inching ever closer to accepting a premium price for a small car that coddles and performs better than the bargain basement small cars we're used to. For what it's worth, we think the Blade is sharp (pun intended) and that its style and premium equipment make an attractive package. It's price in Japan will start at ¥2,247,000, which, for what it's worth, translates into about $19,000 USD.


PRESS RELEASE:

Toyota Launches New Model Blade in Japan
- Toyota's Highest-class Hatchback Aims to Open Way to New Market -

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today the nationwide launch in Japan of the Blade*1 compact hatchback through "Toyota" and "Toyopet" dealers.

The Blade has been developed as a high-class hatchback for stylish adults aimed at achieving a new appeal by satisfying the pride of those in it and offering them a sense of fun with eye-catching advanced styling, as well as with the safety and comfort features and driving performance of a luxury sedan, all in an easy-to-handle size.

The exterior has a deeply sculpted form that evokes an energetic feeling that expresses the vehicle's powerful driving performance and conveys a sense of high status, while meticulous attention has been paid to every detail of the interior, including materials and finishes, to create a high-quality and stylish atmosphere.

By equipping the compact body with a 2.4-liter engine, the Blade exhibits dynamic performance with power to spare, and the newly designed suspension provides superior cruising performance. In addition to its outstanding environmental performance, the vehicle also achieves safety performance at the highest levels in its class*2 through the adoption of VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) and TRC (Traction Control) systems, SRS side and curtain shield airbags and driver's seat SRS knee air bags as standard on all vehicles in the series.

As the highest-class Toyota brand hatchback, the Blade seeks to appeal to the sensitivities of customers with an inclination toward refined and stylish lifestyles and is designed to pioneer a new vehicle market.

*1 Name meant to suggest an automobile with a "sharpness" that fascinates people
*2 Compared to vehicles of similar engine displacement

Vehicle Outline

Highly Advanced Vehicle Design
  • Based on the Toyota-brand design philosophy "Vibrant Clarity," the unique exterior attracts those who see it by evoking an energetic feeling that conveys a sense of powerful driving performance and high status, while the interior arouses a sense of fun for those on the inside with high quality and style.
  • Exterior
  • Deeply sculpted body structure and innovative headlight design create an exterior that conveys the advanced nature of the Blade.
  • The front view expresses high status through a three-dimensional structure that accentuates the center, deep bumper openings, a grille that achieves different perspectives of strength and depth with each bar, and L-shaped headlights.
  • The low center of gravity and the characteristic silhouette of the hatch door create a side view that imparts the Blade's vitality.
  • The rear view features a wide and expansive shape and distinctive elongated combination taillights that convey stability and an air of status.
  • High-quality paint produces a lustrous finish in body colors that highlight the presence and vigor of the exterior.
  • Interior
  • The interior seeks luxury and an exceptional tactile experience.
  • The suede-like leather on the door trim and instrument panel enclosure as well as the titanium finish center cluster panel and ornamentation generate a particular sense of high quality.

Enhanced Equipment that Seeks Exceptional Passenger Comfort
  • The seats provide comfortable seating with a good fit and feature a combination of real leather and Alcantara®*1, which is a leading international brand of suede-like artificial leather that pays meticulous attention to the quality of its feel in the pursuit of the high-quality touch of leather (G grade). This delivers not only functionality, but also a stylish and comfortable space.
  • A four-spoke steering wheel covered with the highest-quality leather used on Toyota brand vehicles is standard on all vehicles in the series.
  • The gentle illumination emanating from the large ceiling light employing three LEDs (indirect illumination) create a stylish atmosphere (G grade).
  • A sliding eight-way multi-adjustable power driver's seat (G grade) with a seat cushion that has separate height adjustments for its front and rear and a seamlessly variable reclining seatback is aimed at offering an optimal seating position.
  • The main controls, including the gear-shift lever, have been concentrated within easier reach of the driver's seat to enhance operability and functionality.
  • An excellent package created through the adoption of a newly developed platform allows for a spacious cabin and relaxing flat-surfaced legroom in the rear, while also achieving superb handling.
  • The rear seats, equipped with a reclining function, have backrests that fold in a 60/40 split and a single-motion tilt-down mechanism that allows both the seat cushions and the backrests to easily fold and stow away, creating an expansive and flat cargo space.
  • An automatic air-conditioner with a pollen-removal mode filters out pollen, dust and other impurities from the air. An additional air conditioning vent is incorporated at the top of the center instrument cluster to enhance comfort throughout the vehicle. G grade vehicles feature fully automatic independent temperature controls for the driver's and passenger's side and also adopts Plasmacluster Ions®*2, an air-cleaning technology, which fills the cabin with refreshing air characterized by an optimal ratio of positive and negative ions.
  • The Smart Entry & Start System employs a key that does not need to be pulled out to lock and unlock the doors, as well as a push button for starting the engine.
  • The advanced Intelligent Parking Assist system, optional on G grade vehicles with a navigation system (manufacturer's option), supports steering operations when parallel parking and backing into a parking space. Ultrasonic sensors installed on the front of the vehicle detect other parked vehicles and based on the results estimate the physical dimensions of a vacant parking space and set the target parking position.
  • The HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) function prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when starting up on a hill and allows for smooth acceleration.
*1 "Alcantara" is a registered trademark of Toray Industries, Inc.
*2 "Plasmacluster Ions" is a registered trademark of Sharp Corporation.


Outstanding Cruising Performance that Provides Comfortable Driving
  • The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine achieves high torque at low and medium speeds combined with smooth acceleration performance at high speeds for ample power as well as excellent fuel efficiency.
  • The newly designed suspension adopts a newly developed double wishbone-type in the rear for outstanding handling, superior cruising stability, and a comfortable ride at all speeds and on all road surfaces.
  • A fuel-saving Super CVT-i (Continuously Variable Transmission-intelligent) which contributes to a smoother driving experience is combined with a highly responsive, seven-speed Sports Sequential Shiftmatic transmission that provides the feel of a manual transmission, thereby greatly heightening the "fun to drive" quotient.
  • A high-rigidity body construction also contributes to ensuring brisk handling, cruising stability and riding comfort.
  • The four-wheel large-diameter disk brakes provide excellent braking performance and feature superior control with a high-quality braking feeling.
  • Road noise and engine noise have been reduced by the optimal distribution of vibration-controlling, sound-absorbing and sound-blocking materials, delivering a quiet cabin space on par with that of a high-class sedan.

Safety and Environmental Performance at the Top of its Class
  • Enhanced safety equipment provides peace of mind.
  • The VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) and TRC (Traction Control) systems, SRS side and curtain shield airbags, and a driver's seat SRS knee airbag come standard on all vehicles in the series.
  • The GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) construction has been further evolved to create an advanced collision-safety body structure. During collision tests under stricter-than-normal standards, the speed was set at 55km/h, and the vehicle was subjected to omni-directional, vehicle-to-vehicle collision tests with a vehicle up to the 2-ton range. Through the use of a body that effectively absorbs collision impact by diffusing it throughout its structure, Toyota satisfied all independent targets for survival space and occupant injury.
  • The pedestrian-injury-lessening body structure has been evolved to further reduce pedestrian head injuries, pursuing a class-top level of protection.
  • The front-seat structures are based on the WIL (Whiplash Injury Lessening) concept and come with stronger seat frames and greater backrest give. They were designed based on analyses using THUMS (Total Human Model for Safety), incorporating a structural design that reduces stress on the neck during low-speed rear impact.
  • All vehicles in the series have been certified as having emissions levels 75% lower than the 2005 standards under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport's Approval System for Low-emission Vehicles. Two-wheel-drive vehicles also achieve the Japanese 2010 fuel efficiency standards specified by the Japanese Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy.
  • Eco-VAS (Eco-Vehicle Assessment System)-Toyota's original comprehensive environmental impact assessment system-was implemented to achieve the overall reduction of environmental impact throughout the vehicle's entire lifecycle as efficiently as possible. Environmental targets were set in the vehicle development stage and a life cycle assessment was carried out, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions and other atmospheric pollutants, not just during the use stage, but also through all stages of the vehicle's life, from manufacture to disposal.
  • A review of the materials, processing methods and adhesives used for interior parts resulted in a reduction in the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) used, thereby also reducing the discomforting odors emitted from such compounds.
  • An Eco Drive Indicator lights up when the vehicle is being efficiently operated to raise the driver's awareness of environmentally considerate driving and contribute to higher fuel efficiency.